Sprint and AT&T are two of the “Big Four” carriers in the US, Verizon and T-Mobile being the other two. But how do they differ?
Sprint vs. AT&T Coverage
In the National Wireless Coverage Comparison 2016, AT&T beat Sprint in overall reliability. However, when it comes down to it, it all depends on where you live and what geographical area you usually move around in. AT&T is better in New York, Philadelphia, and Tulsa. Whereas Sprint has the better network in Portland, Sacramento, and Denver.
The best way to decide which network to go on whenever you choose a carrier, is to go into the carrier and look up the exact address on their coverage map.
About: Founded 1899 as Brown Telephone Company with headquarter in Overland Park, Kansas. It’s the smallest mobile network operator among the Big Four.
Network: Sprint operates on their own CDMA network.
About: Founded in 1882, with headquarter in Dallas, Texas, it’s one of the oldest telephone companies. The company is led by Randall Stephenson, who’s both CEO and Chairman.
Network: AT&T operates on their own GSM/UMTS/HSPA+ Network.
|Sprint Supported Frequencies||AT&T Supported Frequencies|
|4G LTE||Band 2 (1900 MHz), Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz), Band 12 (700 MHz), Band 17 (700 MHz)||Band 25 (1900 MHz), Band 26 (850 MHz), Band 41 (2500 Mhz)|
|3G||Band 2 (1900 MHz), Band 5 (850 MHz)||Band 10 (800 MHz) & Band 1 (1900 Mhz PCS)|
AT&T has rolled out a massive 4G LTE network. The company has also joined Verizon in its field testing of 5G, though this technology will probably not become widely available until 2020.
Sprint, on the other hand, decided back in 2011 to roll out 4G using a technology called WiMax instead of LTE. They were able to shut down the WiMax network in the beginning of 2016 but needless to say, they are behind when it comes to the 4G LTE network.
GSM vs CDMA
The fundamental difference between Sprint and AT&T is that they are CDMA and GSM respectively. The latter requires a SIM card which you can easily take out and put into another device, on another network. GSM networks use a SIM card to store a subscriber’s identity and info, while CDMA devices have electronic serial numbers embedded in the device and require reprogramming to change networks.
However, all LTE networks in the US are using GSM technology, which means that newer Sprint LTE-enabled handsets include a SIM card and may work on all GSM networks like T-Mobile and AT&T.
Generally speaking, if you have an iPhone 5, or a later/equivalent model, you can BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to different carriers with just the swap of the SIM Card.